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Cup Spy March 1: The Cup countdown clock ticks louder as Spring arrives in Europe

by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World NZ 2 Mar 05:19 PST 2 March 2024
Emirates Team New Zealand - AC40 - Day 68 - March 1, 2024 - Waitemata Harbour/Hauraki Gulf © Sam Thom/America's Cup

Two teams sailed on March 1. The US team got a real workout, in Barcelona, while the Kiwis had a more leisurely sail, in Auckland. In Cagliari, the Italians towed out for a two-boat testing session, but the forecasted breeze was a "no-show".

March 1 marks the first day of Spring in Europe, and the first day of Autumn in Auckland, or the end of the Summer sailing season for the Kiwis and diminishing daylight hours. In Europe as the teams build into the Cup, the days get longer - and there's more testing time.

Emirates Team New Zealand had a two hour speed testing and performance data gathering session in a useful breeze in Auckland. The US team sailed their AC40 Magic, in a good breeze out of Barcelona, but it died mid-afternoon. The Italians had a fizzer, towing their two 40fters out to the testing area - only to find the Maestrale had forgotten them. After waiting for 45 minutes, Luna Rossa gave it away for the day and the week.

We look at the standing of the teams in February, and their sailing days in so far in 2024 - the Year of the Cup.

What happened in the Cup - March 1, 2024, and Commentary on 2024 sailing:

  • INEOS Britannia - Did not sail. The Brits are on a three-week break, and must resolve the issues arising from their lithium battery fire on board one of their AC40s two weeks ago. They sailed six days in February, and 11 days in January.

  • Alinghi Red Bull Racing - have resumed sailing their AC75 at Barcelona, on February 23, after spending 10 days in Jeddah conducting two-boat sail testing and practicing racing drills. The team sailed for 16 days in February, and 14 in January, which was spread between time on their AC75 test boat, and sailing their two one design AC40 class yachts. With 30 days in the first two months of the year the Swiss team tops the scoreboard for time on the water.

  • Emirates Team New Zealand - only sailed six days in February. They sailed for nine days in January, and half that month was taken up by the Christmas/New Year break. The team has left their AC75 test boat in Barcelona. Their second AC40 is en route to New Zealand after being sailed in the second Preliminary Regatta in Jeddah in early December. They were the only team to sail on March 1, having a leisurely session of just six tacks and four gybes in two hours - statistics that point to the session being focused on speed testing. For the last two sessions, their AC40 hull/LEQ12 has featured a forward protrusion on the port foil arm described by Blair Tuke as "it's all to do with the mass distribution." "It's no big secret. We're just trying that out. Obviously, it's not the best looking thing. But it went alright." Without scrutinising the AC75 class rule, our guess is that it is an attempt to shift immersed mass to a part of the foil where it is offering less drag/resistance. A test of its effectiveness will be seen in the coming weeks when the Defender launches their AC75 raceboat. Despite the lack of sailing time, it has been a very good sailing Summer in Auckland, and the Kiwis will be hoping that run of weather continues.

  • American Magic - The US team had a wake-up call when they encountered an 100° off-axis seastate of 1.5metres, and fresh winds off Barcelona. The team elected to continue their two and a half hour sailing session, which was at the top end for the AC40s. They had a tough work-out, putting in 77 tacks/gybes in very testing conditions. The video highlights reel below shows AC-8 (Magic) struggling on the edge of control at times, sailing fast in the irregular sea state. However later in the session they looked more controlled, and as co-helm Lucas Calabrese commented after the session: "I still want to be out there and pushing the limits. I think we got good learnings out of today."

    The team put in the second highest sailing days in February - with 15 days in their logbook for the month, and eight days in January. They started behind the other established teams, and lost some key people from the 2021 America's Cup, but they have worked hard, have a strong crew. They are not expected to launch their AC75 raceboat in the same first wave as the four that have already indicated early April launch windows.

  • Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli - The AC37 Joint Recon program reported that the Italian team rolled out their AC40 and LEQ12 test boats and towed out at 1030hrs into the Gulf of Cagliari. "Conditions were glassy without any wind. Mainsails were hoisted. The team awaited approximately 45 minutes for the Maestrale to fill in under the cloudy and rainy sky, but without breeze filling in, and the team returned to base without sailing. Luna Rossa sailed nine days in January and 11 days in February - mostly in contested racing between their AC40 and the LEQ12 - which despite their design differences appears to be a competitive option.

  • Orient Express Racing Team - no report from the AC37 Joint Recon team. The French team test sailed four days in February in their AC 40 in LEQ12 mode - but did more time in one-design mode.

AC37 Joint Reconnaissance Team Reports:

American Magic - AC40/LEQ12 - Day 95 - March 1, 2024 - Barcelona

American Magic Team boat AC40-8 “Magic” rolled out at 09:20hrs Friday morning. The boat was launched by 10:00hrs.

When alongside, sailors and engineers made some regular checking to be sure everything was in top condition before the sailing session.

Magic had a Lidar installed in starboard side today and all the sails that the crew carried to the chase boat seemed to be quite new.

At 11:00hrs Magic docked out towed by the chase boat, they hoisted up the main sail once out from the harbour and as there was no wind close to the harbour the chase boat towed Magic 1.5 miles offshore in front the commercial port from Barcelona.

There they found around 8 to 11 knots from 230-240º wind direction and a rough sea with waves that seemed to come from everywhere (SE direction after checking Barcelona buoy data).

The main sail had a kind of half circle surface extension in between the clew and the end of the batten set at 1.6 m (approximately) from the bottom of the sail.

From here the sailing session was conducted as follows:

Phase 1 (11:44 h to 13:00 h): one of the chase boats set two marks with the intention to be used as a start line at some point of the sailing session or as a leeward door. Magic hoisted a J2 jib and start sailing upwind in port tack. They sailed along two intense laps of upwind / downwind and, despite the sea conditions, they show up with plenty of tacks and gybes and great boat handling. After luffing at the leeward door into portside tack, they stopped and changed the lidar from starboard to port side (@12:30 h).

Then after they proceed with two laps more keeping their sailing pretty active with a lot of manoeuvres and stopped after luffing at the leeward door into portside tack, same as before. They install this time the lidar in both sides and went for one lap more performing three tacks going up wind and three gybes when going down wind.

At this point the wind has increased to 12-16 kn from the same direction 230-240º.

Phase 2 (13.00 h to 14.42 h): they changed jib J2 for jib J3 and they also changed the batteries.

For the second phase they proceed with two starts. On both ones Magic got into the box and quickly went to position itself in the right side of the box (towards the wind) and started with full speed close to the pin end on the first start and in the second started by the middle of the line and quickly tacked to simulate the right side of the course.

After both starts, they performed a short upwind/downwind with a few tacks and gybes in between. The downwind after the second start was longer, they continued sailing after the leeward door executing five gybes and then after luffed into an upwind and performed a couple of short upwind / downwind and stopped.

They made a short briefing and wished to proceed with some more starts but the wind suddenly dropped. At 14.42 h the chase boat towed American back to harbour.

Docking was completed at 15:30hrs. As a Summary American Magic Team today foiled for 105 minutes, performed around 75 manoeuvres: 77 % fully foiling.

[Report by Jose Piñana AC37 Joint Recon Team]

Session Statistics: American Magic - AC40/LEQ12 x2 - Day 95 - March 1, 2024 - Barcelona

  • Weather: 14° C - Sunny/Cloudy
  • Wind Strength: 9-16kts
  • Wind Direction: 235°
  • Sea State: 0.8 - 1.15mtrs 137°
  • Crane In: 1015hrs Dock Out: 1300hrs
  • Dock In: 1530hrs Crane out: 1630
  • Total Tacks: 42; (77% estimated to be fully foiling)
  • Total Gybes: 33; (77% estimated to be fully foiling)

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli (LRPP) - LEQ12 - Day 127 - March 1, 2024 - Cagliari

Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli (LRPP) rolled out their AC40 (White) and their LEQ12 (Red). They stepped the masts and launched in respectively at 09:15hrs and 09:30hrs. Dockout was scheduled for 10:30hrs and both yachts were towed out of the harbor.

Conditions were glassy without any wind, and with longer period swell from SE. Mainsail were hoisted, M2-1 on red and M1 OD on white. The team awaited approx 45 minutes for the Maestrale to fill in under the cloudy and rainy sky but without any luck the team docked in again.

[S-W: No photos or video available]

[Michele Melis AC Recon].

Emirates Team New Zealand - LEQ12 - Day 68 - March 1, 2024 - Auckland

Day 68 on the Hauraki Gulf in LEQ12 for ETNZ. Splashing the boat around 09:45hrs, the team ran through some standard dock checks and checked over foil arm movement. ETNZ are still sailing with the new attachment on the Port foil arm.

Docking out at 10:30hrs, the team towed to Mechanics Bay, hoisting the M2 Main and J3 Jib in a quick building north-westerly. They popped onto the foils and started sailing out of the harbour towards Rangitoto lighthouse.

After a quick run down the harbour, the team stopped just past Rangitoto Lighthouse and had a look down below. Only stopping for a few minutes, they showed no ongoing signs of concern and continued sailing downwind.

During the first run out of the harbour, the team spent almost the whole time on a port gybe, completing several quick rounds and bearaways. Recon observed the team spending some time in a high mode downwind. The wind had now built to around 14-17 kts, with a wind chop starting to develop.

Stopping off Long Bay, the team had a quick check over the foils and then started sailing upwind on starboard tack. This long tack took them back towards Rangitoto light, during which the team was seen trying some faster lower modes of upwind sailing. Bearing away still on starboard tack, the team sailed downwind briefly before coming to an abrupt controlled stop after a double board roundup.

They spent roughly 10 minutes looking over both foils, putting some team members from the chase boat onboard to look.

Continuing sailing, the team completed another lap of port gybe, roundup and bearaways, eventually ending in a fast downwind leg.

With a well-executed gybe into an early roundup, the team sailed upwind again, completing another long starboard leg and heading into the harbour to finish the session.

After the day's sailing, I chatted with Peter Burling about the new foil arm design and the overall feeling of the team heading into the last six months of the cup.

Interview with Blair Tuke, Flight Controller regarding the new foil mods and the outcome of today's session.

[AC Recon team: Sam Thom and Andrew Burgess]

Crew: Peter Burling, Nathan Outteridge, Andy Maloney, Blair Tuke

Session Statistics: Emirates Team New Zealand - LEQ12 - Day 68 - March 1, 2024 - Auckland

  • Weather: 25°C Clear
  • Wind Strength: 8-18kts
  • Wind Direction: 220°
  • Sea State: 0-0.5mtr
  • Crane In: 0945hrs Dock Out: 1030hrs
  • Dock In: 1240hrs Crane out: 1300hrs
  • Sailing time: 140 minutes
  • Sailing distance: 37.25nm
  • Total Tacks: 6 - Fully foiling: 4; Touch & Go: 1; Touch Down: 1
  • Total Gybes: 3 - Fully foiling: 3; Touch & Go: 0; Touch Down: 0

Additional Images:

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